Report: Google in talks with Instagram and TikTok for Search integration

Report: Google in talks with Instagram and TikTok for Search integration

Update 1 (09/27/2021 @ 05:47 PM ET): Google has reached out to provide a few clarifying details. Click here for more information. The article, as published earlier today, is preserved below.

Google is reportedly in talks with ByteDance and Facebook to bring Instagram and TikTok videos to Google Search. The company aims to strike a deal with the social media platforms to index their short format videos on its search engine. If the deal goes through, you’ll be able to look up Instagram and TikTok videos on Google Search using popular keywords.

If you try to look up Instagram or TikTok videos on Google, you’ll only see reuploads of the videos posted on YouTube or another third-party platform. But Google aims to change that. According to The Information, executives from the search giant are currently negotiating a deal with ByteDance and Facebook to get the data they need to index and rank videos from TikTok and Instagram on Search.

In a statement on the matter, a Google spokesperson told The Information that the company is always looking for new ways to organize information. “We help sites make their content discoverable and benefit from being found on Google, and they can choose how or whether their content appears in Search,” the spokesperson added.

It’s worth noting that in December last year, Google started testing a new feature that showed TikTok and Instagram videos in a course in Google Search on mobile. The feature initially showed YouTube videos only, but it soon added videos from the other two platforms. The company is still testing the feature in several regions, and it might see a wider rollout if Google manages to strike a deal with ByteDance and Facebook. Google might also offer a similar feature in Search on desktop if things go according to plan.

TikTok and Instagram videos in Google Search

(Image: Search Engine Roundtable)

While we don’t have any details on the potential terms of the deal, it might be akin to the content-sharing agreement between Google and Twitter. Currently, the search giant pays Twitter a licensing fee to access and incorporate tweets in search results. However, we can’t be sure whether the company will opt for a similar agreement with Facebook and ByteDance or not. If the deal goes through, the search integration will be beneficial for all parties involved — it will help Google deliver better results, bring more traffic and revenue to Instagram and TikTok, and help creators on the platforms gain visibility.

Since all parties involved haven’t set things in stone right now, we can’t be sure if things will pan out as expected. It also remains to be seen how this integration will affect Google’s own short video service — YouTube Shorts. We’ll make sure to let you know as soon as we learn more.


Update 1: Detailed response from Google

A spokesperson for Google reached out to us to clarify some of the points brought up in the report from The Information. Google says that the ongoing discussions are standard discussions that their partnership teams regularly hold with various members of the ecosystem. These discussions are intended to help these members understand and adopt best SEO practices for video content.

Regarding short video results, Google says it is testing these features with over a dozen different content platforms worldwide, rather than just TikTok and Instagram. Google denied that it pays to index video content from the open web. The company reiterates that it surfaces video content hosted by third-parties for indexing on the web, and as always, sites can decide if they want their content to be crawled and indexed.

Lastly, Google says it does not preference YouTube results in search over any other video provider, as its video ranking system uses a number of inputs to show results it thinks people will find most relevant and helpful for a given query.

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.